Takeaways from the 44 days of the ICC Cricket World Cup
According to the International Cricket Council, 1,016,421 people attended the 49 matches over 44 days across Australia and New Zealand to witness their teams battle it out for the Cricket World Cup title for 2015. While there were only a handful of games which could be considered close, the magic of cricket kept all, especially those from the Indian sub-continent, spellbound.
My takeaways from the 44 days of cricket:
You can take the cricket out of India but cannot keep the cricket fan away. Of the 1,000,000 plus who attended, those wearing the blue t-shirts were seen at almost all matches. Indians from all over the globe descended on Australia and New Zealand to enjoy the battle between the bat and the ball. While attending the various matches, I ran into family groups from India, cricket tragics from the US, father-son duos from the Middle East, all following the Indian cricket team as they travelled around the two countries. There were local Indian Australians who took weeks off work to either be at the grounds or be glued to the television coverage. All this provided an amazing atmosphere at matches, especially the India-South Africa match at the MCG when more than 86,000 people – mostly Indian fans – cheered from the beginning of the match till the end. Even the great Sachin Tendulkar admitted that he felt like donning his pads and gloves, so strong was the excitement in the air.
While Channel 9, as the local free-to-air TV, played true to form by televising only Australia-centric matches, pay TV did manage to offer live coverage of all the matches. More than just telecasts, it was great to hear good cricket commentary from icons such as Brian Lara, Rahul Dravid, Harsha Bhogle, Sourav Ganguly and so on. Compared to the commentary on Channel 9, it was a refreshing change to hear real professionals behind the microphone. Yes, some of the commentary on pay TV in Hindi did leave a lot to be desired, but it did lighten up some of the more boring matches.
On the negative side, also part of Channel 9, were two of their anchors who are either silly at best or stupid at worst. Morning anchor Karl Stefanovic’s comments to Indian supporters prior to the India-Australia semi-final, and Shane Warne’s post-win interview with the Aussie cricketers, are two regrettable episodes from the tournament.
On the grand final day, with India bundled out and the contest being between neighbours Australia and New Zealand, it was great to see the local Indian Australians discard their blue gear in favour of the green and gold. While they may have fumbled through their rendition of Advance Australia Fair, there was no denying their passion for Australia as Mitchell Starc bowled Brendan McCallum in the first over. And yes, the sight which will remain with me for a long time, is the dhol player in Australian colours leading the sound effects in the great Southern Stand at the MCG, with the locals joining in the bhangra.
The loud cheers for special guest Sachin Tendulkar at the final ceremony also warmed the heart. Admired for his contribution to cricket, Sachin’s acknowledgement was in sharp contrast to the boos which rang through the MCG when ICC Chair N. Srinivasan was introduced. Australians wear their emotions on their sleeves and their disdain for allegations of tainted behaviour was clear to note.
Now we wait for the Ashes to begin!